By Robert Edmonds - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL--Skyline and Warren County each delivered solid team performances during Thursday night's track and field meet which also featured Handley and Randolph-Macon Academy.
"It's still early in the season and we are looking at each of our participants, but tonight was very exciting and we had some great individual performances," Hawks coach Steve Burton said.
One of the most dominant performances for Skyline was by Clay Jones in the 3,200-meter run. After the second turn of the race, Jones took the lead and never looked back.
"I didn't have a whole lot of competition close to me, so it makes it a little harder to find that extra push," Jones said. "I was just listening to the splits from the coaches and I was pushing to try to qualify for regionals, but I didn't quite make it. Hopefully, I will be able to get a better time as we go on the season to qualify."
The Hawks also had first-place finishes in the 800 from Thomas Madden with a time of 1:58 and Marshall Eckert in the 1,600.
"I wanted to use my kick down the stretch to get the win and help our team get points," Madden said. "I had some great competition from Seumas [O'Reilly]. He pushed me the whole race and that was the reason we had such good times."
The Wildcats had a strong race from Leanna Eisenman in the girls 800 as she led from start to finish.
"I was determined to make time to qualify for regionals," Eisenman said. "I didn't quite make it, but I am still happy with the race I ran. There was no one around me and that makes it hard to pace myself because it was hard to determine where I was [relative] to other runners."
"Leanna [Eisenman] is a pretty good runner for us," Wildcats coach Kennon Yeck said. "She often is a top performer and has been a solid runner for us the past four years, and even when she was in middle school."
Other winners for the Wildcats included Gage Steele, who was victorious in the boys 100 race, and Matt Nicholson in the long jump. Nicholson also was very competitive in his track events.
The most surprising runs came from Verna Hilaire-Lee for Handley, who competed in the 200 and was the anchor for her team in the girls 400 relay. Hilaire-Lee blew her competition away in the 200 ,winning convincingly against notable runners such as Oshene Kelly from Skyline and the Wildcats' Jasmain Ford among others.
Hilaire-Lee also nearly helped her team win the 400 relay. Hilaire-Lee took the baton with her team in third place in the last 100 meters. She was able to track down second place Skyline with 50 meters to go and nearly pulled out the victory, coming up just short at the finish line.
"Right now we are not running with our 'A' team," Hilaire-Lee said. "We are using two alternates and usually I run second, but I switched to anchor for this race. My mentality was that when I go out there, I am gonna catch somebody and that's what I did. I ran my hardest to get us first place, but I just didn't make it in time."
Handley also had a first place finish from Karra Myers in the girls 400.
"In this type of meet, we look to see where we stand against our rivals and also to see where we are in the district against a team like Handley," Burton said. "We try to maneuver some of our participants around so that we can ultimately earn points because we still try to get that district title. We have a lot of good runners and except for a few, we are not a senior-laden team, which is good for us."
-- Editor's note: Final results from Thursday's Skyline meet were not available at press time.